High rents force daycares in Amsterdam to close

An after-school care centre (BSO) in the city centre of Amsterdam is closing, the second daycare to close in the city. According to newspaper Het Parool, the provider Partou claims it can no longer pay the rent on the premises, and the municipality of Amsterdam states it has no power to intervene.

Until April 2021, the 9-year-old son of Loes Wagemans, who lives in Nieuwmarktbuurt, visited BSO Boomsspijker on the Recht Boomssloot. Due to the closure of the BSO, the children were transferred to the branch in Nieuwe Kerkstraat, only a six-minute walk away – but this will close in July as well, due to high rental prices.

Wagemans’ son is now asked to walk to Partou’s Nieuwe Achtergracht location, across the Amstel River, a walk of twenty minutes. Wagemans says: “It almost feels like I’m sending my child to Purmerend.” According to her, 110 children are now without a BSO place altogether, because the neighbourhood’s three remaining BSOs, with other providers, are all full.

Partou argues that the buildings hired from the organization by the municipality were becoming too expensive. “There is less demand for care places; many remain vacant,” says David Gribnau, spokesman for Partou. The daycare at first only closed on Wednesdays and Fridays, due to declining demand, but new children were not recruited for the remaining days. “And the rent didn’t change,” he adds. Furthermore, he claims it is better for the children to have “more friends around them.” Partou, according to Wagemans, could do more to help the situation. “I’ve never seen Partou advertise for additional children to recruit.”

More daycares close
This recent daycare closure is the second after Elfenbankje nursery for kids aged 0-4 years old, which closed due to a property sale in 2019. The building in which the nursery was located was sold and due to Amsterdam’s high rental prices andlack of space, finding a replacement site was not possible. For 29 years, Elfenbankje had operated as a small independent nursery on the Nieuwe Herengracht.

According to Het Parool, mum Vanessa Jorissen considered the shutdown a serious setback. Her two girls must move to a new nursery, but she was content at Elfenbankje. “We deliberately opted for a small-scale daycare, and there aren’t many of these. For parents, a good daycare is a basic necessity of life. It is such a pity that the owner of the building is going for the big money.”

Another parent, Michelle de Boer, who has an 8-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter, says their daycare is closing for the third time. Her kids visited Elfenbankje until 2019, and now have to find a new daycare again, after the closing of the Boomsspijker location.

Municipality does not offer aid
De Boer asks why the municipality is powerless to intervene. “Is it morally responsible to charge market-based rent for a daycare in the city centre, the most expensive part of the city? We must ensure that Amsterdam does not become London, where families no longer live in the heart of the city. What kind of city centre are we aiming for?”

The municipality, through a representative for education, cites Dutch law, which mandates that the municipality uses market-based pricing. Childcare organizations that rent from the municipality are not given special privileges, as this would be unfair to childcare organizations that rent from third parties.

De Boer would like to see a new BSO in Nieuwe Kerkstraat, According to the municipality, it is looking into renting out the location to a BSO again, which in fact happened to the Boomsspijker location.

Written by Nicole Kerr